I thought Janhvi was quiet, she is a big bully: Ishaan Khatter

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There’s more to her than just a pretty face. Janhvi Kapoor is proud to be the daughter of the iconic Sridevi and Boney Kapoor and yet she is determined to rise in the industry on her own. Ishaan Khatter is always happy, curious and willing to experiment with roles. A self-confessed learner who takes his craft very seriously, he has aspirations to be admired for his acting, over his good looks. As the release date of their upcoming filmDhadak – the official Hindi adaptation of the Marathi blockbuster Sairat – nears, both Ishaan and Janhvi are going through a roller-coaster of emotions. On a recent visit to Pune, Bollywood’s young stars visited the Aga Khan Palace with Pune Times. As they explore the historic landmark, the duo talked about the challenges they faced during the film, dealing with the pressure of constant comparison and Janhvi’s emotional tribute to her mom. Excerpts…
Dhadak’s trailer and the Hindi version of Zingaat is attracting a sea of compliments and comparison as well. Are you guys overwhelmed?
Janhvi: At times, yes, constant comparison with Sairat is overwhelming, but I understand where it is coming from. The audience has a special attachment with the film and it is quite natural for them to react this way. One of the most beautiful things about Sairat is how honestly it was presented. We have a similar approach to our film and we all lived each character. Although Dhadak is an official adaptation, it has its unique charm. I’m sure the audience who watched Sairat will find something new and meaningful in our film too.
Ishaan: I’d like to add that Sairat will always remain sacred to its fans. And through Dhadak, we are trying to tell our perspective to the audience on the same issue. There is enough love and space out there for our film to find its rightful place in the heart of the audience.

What was your reaction after watching Sairat?
Janhvi: That movie had such an impact on me. For the longest time, I was dumbfounded. It was so moving and the acting was brilliant. I found myself feeling attached to the characters Archie and Parshya, and felt a genuine sense of loss. The film has such a powerful impact on the audience. I would like to be a part of movies that have a similar impact on people.
Ishaan: Dhadak was the first film I was meant to do. And it is very close to my heart. It so happened that when Shashank Khaitan, our director, wanted to make the film and cast me in the lead, I was on my way with him to the screening of Sairat. So I watched the film immediately after that information. I was completely consumed by it. That’s the kind of power the film had on me. It took me a while to shake off the emotions. The movie also ends on a very poignant note. When it all started to sink in, in my subsequent meetings with Shashank, he said that he wanted to adapt the film on screen and add new idiosyncrasies to it. Everything excited me a lot.

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Janhvi, you have watched Sairat. You’ve had your struggles with Hindi in the past and in Dhadak, your character Parthavi has a Mewari dialect. How did you master the art of languages?

(Laughs) I picked up a few words in Marathi. I know aai means mother, ho means yes and chaan means nice. The struggle with language is real for me. However, it has been a learning experience so far. Shashank (director) took us to Udaipur and Jaipur to recce the location. This helped me get acquainted with the culture, diction and how the locals speak. We went there several times to meet people and understand the colloquial language. Since Shashank is a Marwari, he helped me perfect my tone with regular improvising and reading of the script. So it took me a lot of practice. For Ishaan, it is cakewalk to talk in different accents. He switches between British, French, German and Russian accents like a boss.

Tell us about your experience on the sets…
Ishaan: It has been the most rewarding experience on the sets. Shashank made us chase efficiency and we managed to shoot the film in 44 days, which is no mean feat. We prepared and improvised for long hours to give full justice to our characters. The shoot went very smoothly MashaAllah.
Janhvi: We had a special account called Dhadak khata at a local café for us and we used to pig out on local cuisine. Working in Karan’s production is like family. There’s a sense of belonging and security. We had a lot of freedom given to us to explore the city and experiment as well.

Speaking of experimenting, are you open to working in a Marathi film?
Janhvi: Absolutely. In fact in any language for that matter. Marathi cinema is so rich and meaningful.
Ishaan: I second that. Marathi films have given quality cinema to the audience and as an actor; it would be a privilege to work in the industry.
What kind of feedback are you guys receiving post the release of Zingaat?
Janhvi: It was a lot of fun shooting for the song Zingaat. The only choreography in the song was the hook step. Everything else is Ishaan’s freestyling. The song is so energetic and it comes at a very important point in our relationship in the film. The feedback we are receiving is simply overwhelming. People are appreciating the song.

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The chemistry between the two of you is admired a lot…
Ishaan: We share a wonderful camaraderie and it translates on screen. There’s a good comfort level between us. (Laughs) I used to think Janhvi was a quiet girl but she is a big bully.
Social media is flooded with comments comparing you to your mom…
Janhvi: Exactly! It has been happening a lot. Especially since my film is about to release. Everything I did and everything I do is to get some sort of validation from my mom. She has been admired and respected by her fans all her life. Now I am going to look for the same in her fans. I will keep working hard in her name always and this is my tribute to her.
Now that you have seen Aga Khan Palace what else would you like to see in pune?
Janhvi: I used to come here quite often with my mom and dad over weekends. However, we never stepped out of the hotel. I’m glad I really got a chance to see the real Pune and taste vada pav as well.
Ishaan: I have been around in Pune. I was here to shoot my first film Beyond The Clouds at a vegetable market. I remember the pungent smells were so overwhelming and I’ve seen the biggest jackfruits and pumpkins there. It was a fun experience. And for the first time, I am wearing a Puneri pagdi. So my visit to the city is quite successful.

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